This is a hard post to write because I think it would be hard for many to relate to what I’m about to say.
I left the U.S. in 2004 and have basically been living abroad since. Each time I went back home things seemed to get more and more crazy. I didn’t see myself fitting in at home at all and I continued my nomadic, corporate life.
Here’s a dollars and cents story to illustrate this. I attended IE Business School for my MBA. The program itself was expensive, and living costs in Spain for 15 months were also quite expensive. I was accepted by the MBA program at my alma mater Ohio State University. They offered me a fellowship due to my international experience. The first year’s tuition would have been completely free and the second year would have been half price. They also offered a stipend, though I can’t remember how much it was, that would have covered all my expenses the first year, and half my expenses the second year.
But I turned it down to head to Spain. I didn’t turn it down purely because I didn’t want to live in the U.S. A large part of the calculation was that I wanted to live and work in Europe after graduation and I saw a much better chance of that happening if I went to school there. Plus, I had visited Madrid in 2006 and fell in love with the city. In 2008 I did my interview in person with IE and felt a great connection to the school. Still, it was literally a $100,000 decision.
A strange thing happened on my most recent visit home, when I surprised my mom for Christmas. I felt ok. By all means, I still find the U.S. crazy, but all places are crazy to some extent. What was happening was what I have advocated on this site since its inception: acceptance.
When I focus on what’s relevant to my life, the U.S. isn’t a bad place to live. In theory, I could live in New York and have many of the things I want in life at my disposal (public transport, organic food, wifi, interesting people, nature (though Central Park doesn’t compare to Tayrona National Park of course), etc. There wouldn’t be the daily constant, daily learning new things like I have when living in other countries, but in New York, and the U.S. to a lesser extent, you can meet people from all over the world.
Using myself as an example. I think too often we let our decision-making get consumed by things beyond our control. In my case, most of the things I don’t like about “home” are beyond my control. But if I focus on the things that are within my control, the picture changes and I can pretty much enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in my own unique way. In the end, happiness is something internal and you should be able to cultivate it no matter where you are.